Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Cr♥ssw♥rd Nation puzzle (Week 349), “String Beans!”—Janie’s take
Another easy theme this week, distinguished by the fine way it’s been executed. Taking a cue from the title, the circled letters in each of the four themers present a string of letters—strung out across the row—which spell out varieties of beans. What’s so special about the theme’s execution? For starters, each themer is a grid-spanner; and then there’s the range of content they draw on. This latter quality is something I take as a hallmark of Liz’s work and something I always look forward to when solving. It’s one of the things that makes “easy” puzzles attractive to experienced solvers as well as to newbies.
- 17A. [La-Z-Boy product line, in general] HOME FURNISHINGS. Generally of the comfy sort. Well-stuffed at times—but not stuffy. Mung beans. These guys, and sometimes what we call “bean sprouts.”
- 27A [Rap sheet datum] PRIOR CONVICTION. Strong fill that. “I LIKE!” Pinto beans. I like them, too!
- 46A. [1981 R&B hit by Lakeside (it was a real trip!)] “FANTASTIC VOYAGE.“ New to me, as I think of FANTASTIC VOYAGE as this 1966 film, which now sounds like “The Cold War Meets Downsizing“… (Btw, Liz wasn’t kidding when she described the tune as “a real trip.” Take a look at the official video.) Fava beans. Cue up Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.
- 62A. [Figure on a $1,000 bill] GROVER CLEVELAND. If you find yourself in possession of one of these bills (not minted since the 1930s), it should fetch you quite a bit more than its face value. Green beans. At last!
Other fill (and clues) that fall into the “I LIKE!” column would have to include HAD KITTENS (and not HAD A COW, for a change) for [Was extremely upset]; LOSES STEAM [Runs out of energy]; FLORAL, and not TRYSTS or DINNER in response to [Like some Valentine’s Day arrangements?]; ETHNIC, that [Word with food or group]; B-MOVIE [Second-rate film], so not, to judge by its critical reception, Fantastic Voyage; MOB HIT and not JUNIOR for [Whack job on “The Sopranos”]; VENICE and AT BEST. That’s a lotta good longer and mid-range fill, and by any stretch, none of it at all BANAL.
How did you do with ETI [Life in a UFO (anagram of 25-Across)]? At first blush, this was new to me, but then… when I understood that we were looking at “ET” as in “E.T., phone home,” and “I” as in IQ or AI, the light dawned. If the clever anagram tie-in to TIE didn’t help, [“BE OF good cheer!”]. This is why we have Wikipedia. Now maybe celebrate the “aha” with a LIME-garnished gimlet, or perhaps some PILAF and wine from the RIOJA region. [“NEED I say more?”] I don’t think so.
So on that culinary high, I leave you for today. Have a great week, keep solving and pop on in next week!
Samuel A. Donaldson’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Autocorrection” — Laura’s write-up
Terms relating to automobiles each have “corrections” — i.e. they are parsed as two words and clued goofily; hilarity ensues.
- [17a: Fight over coffee at the diner?]: MUD FLAP
- [19a: Lovers of big galoots?]: LUG NUTS
- [27a: Tripod?]: CAM SHAFT
- [47a: Baby carrot?]: DIP STICK
- [56a: Shot from an admirer?]: FAN BELT
- [58a: Passenger limits at major airports?]: HUB CAPS
Nice set; can’t think of any more to add — maybe POWER TRAIN [Tough workout?]. One quibble, [34d: BTW equivalent]: FWIW — I get a wee bit confused with grids whereby the themers are the same length as a bunch of fill entries. But I managed.
Fill ‘er up:
- [31a: Act cruelly toward]: ILL TREAT. I was parsing this as I’LL TREAT — like something you would say as the bill was SETTLED UP [21d: Finished a poker night, say].
- [5d: Spare tire makeup]: FLAB. The spare tire referenced here is not in your trunk, but around your waist — and it is also known as a muffin top.
- [35a: “Downton Abbey” extra, maybe]: Yeah, mayyybe. The VALETs on Downton Abbey were pretty important to various major story arcs. One was arrested for murder; another had a black market scam going on during the First World War.
- [12d: Biblical queen]: ESTHER. We celebrate Queen Esther (who, with her cousin Mordechai, triumphed over the evil vizier Haman) on the Jewish holiday of Purim, which starts on the 14th day of that crossword-friendly month, ADAR (this year February 28). Does anyone else remember a Saturday Night Live sketch from the 80s, where a reporter goes to a St. Patrick’s Day party, but it turns out it’s a Purim party? The google is suggesting it was Mary Gross, in an episode hosted by NYC’s then-mayor, Ed Koch.
- [4d: John of “Animal House”]: BELUSHI.
Bruce Haight’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Same basic theme as Monday’s LA Times puzzle, which I solved about 5 hours ago. This is two too many “phrases with the same initials” themes for one day! (To be clear: I’d rather see zero … but I know these will continue to pop up from time to time.)
45d. [Tricky … or a tricky description of 18-, 29-, 36-, 48- and 59-Across] clues DEVIOUS, and the five themers have D.V. initials: DEATH VALLEY, DODGE VIPER, DEEP VOICE, DARTH VADER, and DEMO VERSION. Solid entries, relatively lively phrases.
Elsewhere, we debit the puzzle’s account for having SAVED UP crossing USE UP, I HOPE SO plus I’LL BITE , and IN ERROR with IN HD. These are all fine alone, but I don’t love seeing them in the same grid. Overall grid liveliness doesn’t buy my forgiveness for all these dupes.
Seven more things:
- 16a. [Kind of lily], CALLA. “Calla lily” is a kind of flower, but it’s not a member of the lily family so I don’t care for the clue. Works as a fill-in-the-blank, doesn’t work as a [Kind of __] clue.
- 27a. [Visibly blushing], REDDISH. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use REDDISH to describe a blushing face. Beet-red, sure.
- 51a. [Poll worker’s request], VOTER ID. Only in the states that have passed bogus laws aimed at lowering certain groups of voters’ turnout.
- 26d. [___ Wilcox, daughter in E. M. Forster’s “Howards End”], EVIE. Didn’t know this one. Never did see the movie, much less read the novel.
- 46d. [Words and phrases that sound approximately alike, like “ice scream” and “I scream”], ORONYMS. It is good to have a word for this, but this is a reeeaaalllly uncommon word. I mean, I dig things like this, and I don’t recall ever seeing the term before. And it’s in a Tuesday puzzle??
- 44d. [Sign on a real or virtual pet], ADOPT ME. Feels contrived.
- 31d. [Road worker], PAVER. We call those people … road workers. Road construction crew members. Not pavers. Pavers are those paving stones you can use to tile together a nice driveway or patio.
We’ll also ding this Tuesday puzzle for plunking OTOE, ESS, and that unfamiliar EVIE in the grid. Three stars from me.
Matt Jones’s Jonesin’ Crossword, “Running Free” – Derek’s write-up
I am blogging this on my phone! As I write, my five-year-old is on my computer watching YouTube videos, and I don’t feel like chasing down my laptop! I probably will have O anyway, since I will have to add the grid image I just accidentally deleted! Matt has a freestyle puzzle this week with just 64 words. I will comment on the few entries in her that were new to me, but overall this was a fun solve, and not too hard either. I am again jealous of this kind of talent. A solid 4.5 today.
A few mentions:
- 20A [Oprah’s longtime partner Graham] STEDMAN – First husband maybe in the White House? Oprah says she isn’t running, but Trump said that too!
- 28A [Reason for news to interrupt regular programming] SPECIAL BULLETIN – It better be special to interrupt The Voice!
- 54A [Lovingly, in music] AMOROSO – Why do I see OMAROSA when I see this?
- 1D [Early baseball Hall-of-Famer Edd] ROUSH – Roush Racing in NASCAR, with drivers Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., may be more well known than an obscure baseball player. Roush had previously had Mark Martin, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth as drivers.
- 10D [“__ Kalikimaka” (Bing Crosby holiday song)] MELE – If you say so!
- 13D [Jazz trumpeter Ziggy] ELMAN – Another obscurity, unless you’re a big fan of jazz!
- 31D [Caption seen early in an alphabet book, maybe] C IS FOR CAT – Excellent!
- 46D [Armour’s Spam rival] TREET – Never heard of it. Is this a west coast thing??
Until next week!
C.C. Burnikel’s LA Times crossword – Derek’s write-up
I am constantly amazed at C.C.s grasp of English, since, as I understand it, English is not her native tongue. Some people just have a knack for grasping other languages, but perhaps not to the point of producing puzzles in that language! I have seen French crossword puzzles, and it seems daunting to me the level that you would have to know French to produce and enjoyable word game. Not only that, but C.C. seems to use, maybe even more than most, casual phrases in her puzzles. I will highlight several in the comments at the end, but I just had to say that right off the bat!
This puzzle has some circles, and another LAT trademark revealer as the last theme entry:
- 17A [Cold dish topped with hard-boiled egg] CHEF’S SALAD – Do you say “chef salad” too?
- 25A [Longtime Susan Lucci soap role] ERICA KANE
- 38A [It clicks on the dance floor] TAP SHOE
- 50A [Appear intermittently] COME AND GO
- 61A [It may be a boundary betweeen neighboring countries … or what each set of circles depicts?] BORDER LAKE
Nice idea, although not all of these lakes are actually on a border, unless lake Como in Italy borders one of its states, and it looks like it is entirely in the state of Lombardy. Lake Chad is in the southwest corner of Chad near Cameroon, Lake Erie is between the US and Canada, and Lake Tahoe is between Nevada and California. But we are talking wordplay here, so all is good, and this is only Tuesday. A solid 4.4 stars for this one.
Those aforementioned comments:
- 10A [Apple computer with a Magic Keyboard] IMAC – I am still preferring my Mac to my PC, but it seems everything business-related where I work necessitates a PC. Phooey.
- 60A [Bread for a gyro] PITA – I am growing to like eastern Mediterranean cuisine, and there is a lot of pita bread eaten in those restaurants. Yummy!
- 2D [Bit of gratitude from an award recipient] “I’M HONORED” – This is what I was talking about.
- 3D [Driver’s invitation] NEED A RIDE? – This is another example of those colloquial phrases …
- 10D [“The pressure was too much for me”] I CHOKED! – … and this may be the best one of them all!
- 12D [Hunter Quatermain of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”] ALLAN – His name is spelled wrong! ;-)
- 35D [Police artist’s composite pic maker] IDENTIKIT – This actually got three NYT hits (four counting the acrostic) at xwordinfo.com. That surpised me. This is mainly software, but according to TV shows I thought all PDs had a sketch artist?!
- 53D [Causes of illnesses] GERMS – Do you have the flu? It seems it is bad this year. I had a shot!
It’s still snowy here!